Saying Goodbye to Hogwarts in 3D

As an avid reader I don’t go to the movies all that often. I’m simply not interested in a lot of movies and feel the ones I am interested in usually don’t live up to the book that inspired them. So I stay at home or sit on a park bench or dig up a book from my bag where I coincidentally happen to be and read.

When the first Harry Potter book came out, I didn’t care, later, I went to see the first movie, because everyone was talking about the series and to get some idea what all that was about, I simply had to see the movie. I liked it, but wasn’t enthusiastic.

Only a few months before the final Harry Potter book came out, I finally caught up on the series. I had to, almost everyone I was talking to on a regular basis knew the books, the movies, loved them all and was totally excited about the last book. I wanted to keep my friends, so I read.

The day the last book finally made it to the bookstore I participated in a workshop and felt a cold coming on. The audio book copy of The Half Blood Prince was already waiting for me at home, borrowed from the library, but for some reason I couldn’t get my hands on The Order of the Phoenix. I foolhardily entered a bookstore that day and came home with a copy of the Phoenix and the Deathly Hollows, of course.

I spent the following week reading, listening and reading through my feverish cold. When my mind was done with the books, my body was done with the virus. Just a little later The Order of the Phoenix movie was released and I absolutely had to see it, of course.

I prefer to watch movies with their original soundtrack, if I get the chance. Commonly all movies are shown with a German soundtrack in our movie theatres and on TV. Qualities vary. Many are excellent, some are, well, let’s say the speakers don’t quite live up to the original actors, sometimes the German soundtrack is better than the original, especially when the original has loud background noise, so the voices are barely comprehensible.

Watching The Order of the Phoenix, I became an admirer of Alan Rickman’s acting skills, especially the way he uses his voice. (No, I am not a fan of Prof Snape.) And so, when the latest and last Harry Potter movie came out I just had to get see it in English again. Usually there is just one show of each movie in English at one of the theatres in my city – and when it is a blockbuster, the tickets are gone fast. With a bit of patience and luck I got a ticket for a good seat this time though. A 3D version, which I thought was cool, because “watching a movie in 3D” was on my fun project list for this year anyway.

I arrived at the theatre early, because I knew it would be busy and I had been warned my ticket would be sold, if I didn’t pick it up soon enough. I arrived with a backpack full of stuff, mind you. Food, drink – and a book, of course, because I knew I’d spend some time waiting.

The 3D effects were interesting, but not impressive. My favourite 3D section was an ad that had wine gums flying at me… I was annoyed by the volume in the theatre, so were a few others. The lady beside me also occasionally covered her ears. The action scenes were great, but the story was abbreviated quite a bit. I still believe the author was talked out of the original end by the publisher, because it doesn’t match the rest of the series in coherence and credibility. But I mustn’t give anything important away, the movie is worth seeing and I sure don’t want to spoil anything for you.

If you want to know, what it is like to watch a movie in the “wrong” language, check out this trailer.

Hydrangea Sargentiana / Samthortensie

I found this big blossom on a tree in the park and found it quite intriguing. I’d need both of my hands to cover it. There was a sign beside it saying it is a Hydrangea Sargentiana native to China.

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Diese Riesenblüte ist mir neulich im Park aufgefallen. Ich würde beide Hände brauchen, um sie zu bedecken. Das Schild daneben verriet, dass es sich um eine Samthortensie aus China handelt.

Rose 7

I love my new camera. Even though we are having some honeymoon disagreements. Mainly about focusing. The auto focus tends to think too much. When I use a broad focus field, it seems to focus at a random object, preferably something in motion. The other day I took a photo of a crow on a branch. The crow sat quite still but wind rustled the leaves and yes, I ended up with perfectly focused leaves and a blurred bird.

That day I changed the setting to spot focus. I can pick to the spot the camera focuses on manually, but that takes forever, so by default, I use the center, focus and then change the angle. It doesn’t always work the way I plan yet, but I am getting there as the picture above proves.

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Ich liebe meine neue Kamera, auch wenn sie meiner Meinung nach zu viel denkt. Beim Autofocus gibt es eindeutig zu viel Auto und zu wenig Focus. Neulich habe ich eine Krähe auf einem Ast fotografiert. Da hat die Automatik gemeint, wenn sich die Blätter bewegen, dann seinen die bestimmt wichtig. Die waren dann scharf und der Vogel ganz verschwommen.

Seitdem benutze ich den Spotfocus in der Mitte. Aber zielen, scharf stellen, Ausschnitt ändern und schießen klappt nicht immer so, wie ich mir das vorstelle. Erste Erfolge gibt dennoch, wie man hier sehen kann.

Keeping cool – in style!

I hate to wear something on my head. I grudgingly wear a fleece cap in winter, because I know I’ll get sick, if I don’t. But the other day my eccentric head demanded more protection. After a hike in the sun, I came home with a major headache and when I read up on it, I realized I probably had a minor sunstroke and could consider myself lucky, things weren’t worse. I had been out alone in the countryside and serious sunstrokes go with confusion. I can loose my way with a map and my wits about me just fine, I don’t need any confusion on top of it.

That’s why I grudgingly decided it was time to get a summer hat. Few people here wear summer hats and my brief visit to the mall revealed the selection was small. Just owning a sun hat wouldn’t help, if I didn’t wear it, therefore I had to make sure I got myself a hat I didn’t hate. But how?

I vaguely remembered something about a famous hat shop in town. They make and sell hand crafted hats, predominately traditional hats that go with traditional Bavarian clothes though, something I’d not even consider wearing. I looked the shop up online and found out they sell hats, any shape and design you can think of. So a visit to the shop was in order.

It ended up being a very brief visit. I climbed the stairs to the first floor, looked around, scratched my head in confusion at the sight of hundreds of hats, was noticed by a young sales lady and told her what I was looking for. I originally thought of a fabric hat, because it can be folded and stored in a backpack easily, but they looked silly on me. Then I looked at the straw hats. They didn’t look silly, but wouldn’t have worked. After a brief discussion I ended up with a viscose hat which looks like a straw hat, but is a fabric hat. It can be folded bagged if necessary, but shouldn’t be crumpled too badly. Most importantly: I don’t hate it. I couldn’t quite see myself loving it, but I knew wearing it would be better than risking headaches.

I have worn the hat one afternoon already and was ok with it. Unfortunately ever since I bought it, it has been raining. The weather forecast says it will keep raining. Sigh. So this ends up being a slightly sad Fresh Breeze. It makes some other Fresh Breeze plans impossible for the time being – but not next week’s.

Music and Crowds

If you have visited my blog before, you might think that photography is my creative passion. Well, it is a recently re-discovered passion, my other creative activity is singing. Jazz mostly. And I love listening to good singers as much as I love looking at beautiful photos. The young lady on the stage is one of my inspirations, great voice and great sense of humour.

Last weekend I spontaneously decided to pay a short visit to the annual jazz festival in town. Visits to the festival can’t be planned in advance, it justly has a reputation for horrible weather. There were weekends when people ended up grilled and dehydrated, but there were also weekends, when the tarps were blown off stages, the scene illuminated by lightnings (no, I didn’t watch the scene myself, I watched the thunderstorm through a window and saw photos later). Getting soaked is a common experience. I have taken to checking the weather forecast regularly before the festival and deciding last minute, if I will attend or not.

On Sunday, the forecast predicted rain in the evening and the sky looked like it, but my favourite local musicians (see above) were schedule to perform in the late afternoon. So I grabbed my robust little camera and blended in the crowd.

It wasn’t the musicians’ luckiest day. A guitar string tore just when they got on the stage, the sound tech needed patient and careful instructions, the crowd was noisy and restless. This isn’t the nicest festival stage. People have to walk directly past the stage on their way around the festival which has about a dozen stages in the area. The music was good, the atmosphere was not.

It started dripping a bit during the concert. I would have loved to listen to one other musician after this concert, but a quick look at the sky told me, that would become a very wet experience. So I hurriedly left when they got off the stage. It started raining for real when I was almost home.

After the experience this year, I have made decisions on future visits. I feel the festival is the perfect opportunity to check out bands I don’t know yet. So, weather permitting, I’ll be back next year. It is not always an opportunity to fully enjoy good music. There have been magic moments during previous years, but a lot of things have to happen at the same time to create one: good musicians, friendly, attentive audience, decent weather.

As one other lady in the audience put it: it pays to pay for a concert ticket. So that’s what I’ll do more often from now on.

Small White (butterfly) / Kleiner Kohlweißling

This is admittedly not my best butterfly photo. But at least I know what kind of butterfly it is and I like how translucent the wings come out in this picture. Today I spotted a Red Admiral when I was walking along the river. I couldn’t take a good picture of it, but at least a quick “aim and shoot” for identification. Until three weeks ago, I would have sworn we had three species of butterflies in the area: Small Whites, Brimstone and Peacock. Turns out I was very wrong. In the meantime I have found a site with species descriptions of butterflies found in southern Germany, it describes over 600 species (including various moths). I am learning a lot more than photography these days.

And I love it.

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Das ist nicht mein bestes Schmetterlingsfoto, aber wenigstens kann ich die Art identifizieren, außerdem gefällt mir wie durchsichtig die Flügel auf dem Bild wirken. Auf meinem Spaziergang heute ist ein Admiral um mich herumgeflattert. Ein gutes Foto konnte ich von ihm nicht machen, aber wenigstens einen Schnappschuss zur Identifikation. Bis vor drei Wochen hätte ich gesagt, dass es hier drei Schmetterlingsarten gibt: Kohlweißlinge, Zitronenfalter und Tagpfauenaugen. Inzwischen habe ich ein klein wenig dazugelernt und eine Seite mit Artenbeschreibungen aus Süddeutschland entdeckt auf der über 600 Arten (inklusive Nachtfalter) beschrieben sind. Fotografieren bildet.

Und das ist gut so.

Off the beaten track / Gut versteckt

This is my favourite view along my favourite hiking route out of town. It’s easy to miss, not directly on any path, no sign. There are steps at the riverbank and when I approached them a little red lizard ran off to hide. I can’t remember when I had last seen a lizard.

I hope this region will remain peaceful, not become merely a suburb of the nearby city, not be overrun by tourists. I know there are more pretty little spots like this nearby and I hope a wanderer may still discover them by accident for a long time to come.

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Das ist meine Lieblingsaussicht von meinem Lieblingswanderweg außerhalb der Stadt. Sie liegt ein bisschen ab vom Weg und ist deshalb leicht zu übersehen. Es gibt am Ufer ein paar Stufen und als ich darauf zu ging, lief eine kleine, rote Eidechse zurück ins Gebüsch. Ich kann mich nicht erinnern, wann ich zuletzt ein Eidechse gesehen hatte.

Ich hoffe, dass diese Region so still bleiben wird und sich nicht zu einem bloßen Vorort der nahe gelegenen Stadt entwickelt oder von Touristen überrannt wird. Ich weiß, dass es in der Gegend noch mehr schöne, kleine Plätze wie diesen hier gibt und ich hoffe, dass auch sie auch in Zukunft von Vorbeikommenden entdeckt werden können.